56. Current status PR & 2017 in a nutshell

North Vancouver, Canada, 30.12.2017.

When I wrote my last blog entry three weeks ago, I was in a great mood because it seemed to me that I had a good chance of getting my Canadian Permanent Residency at some point in the future. Then, I received an E-Mail from IRCC that struck a serious blow to my dreams of staying longer in Canada. See for yourself:

PR- Rejection
Rejection of my application by IRCC.

Now there is a lot I could say about this but I will reduce it to just these few comments:

  1. When I applied for my current visa last year, I did not submit a translation of my German Police certificate and it was accepted by IRCC.
  2. My German police certificate symply said “Keine Eintragung” which means “No trace”. Even without a translation, I think that this expression should be known at IRCC because there are thousands of Germans who send in their Police Certificates each year when applying for a work & travel visa, PR or a young professional visa.
  3. Simply cancelling the whole application now and not even giving me the opportunity to obtain and submit that translation seems really harsh and also inefficient. By doing this, they actually produce more work than they save. In a previous blog entry, I was full of praise for the Canadian bureaucracy. Seems like I was a little too rash with that judgment…
  4. In the end, it is my own fault that this happened because I did not provide this specific translation which I was supposed to according to their regulations. So I did not read all of their regulations in detail and that was probably a mistake. Or I should have maybe invested a few hundred dollars and have an Immigration Consultant have a look at my application. That would have been another option…

Anyway, there is nothing I can do about this anymore now. As of now, I can still continue working and staying in Canada after January 2nd since I also applied for a work permit extension so that I will be in “implied status” from January 3rd onwards. However, since my PR application has been cancelled, there is a high probability that my work permit extension will also be cancelled once they start looking into it. Now I would still have a chance to get approval for the work permit extension if my current employer AND the government of BC (they already noinated me to become one of their citizens) supported me. Both of them have to provide me with a specific letter/offer that I already requested more than 2 weeks ago. And guess what? I did not receive anything from either one yet. So time is ticking for me now and there is nothing I can really do about it. Not the greatest of all feelings, that’s for sure…

Stanley-Park
A heron sitting in a colourful autumn- tree in Stanley Park.

Now people keep asking me if I can’t simply reapply for Permanent Residency. Yes, I can and I already have but the whole process takes a lot of time and I fear that I don’t have that time. First of all, my BC provincial nomination has to be tied to my new PR application again. That will take a few weeks probably. After that, I will score enough points again to be invited by IRCC. However, I will first have to wait for the next round of invitations. That can take up to another three weeks. After that, I will be allowed to submit all of my documents again and wait for the application to be processed. Now it is very likely that my application for the work permit extension will be rejected a lot earlier than me being able to finalize my new PR application. And in that case, I would have to notify IRCC and BC PNP that I am not working anymore. This again will probably lead to BC PNP withdrawing my provincial nomination and thus IRCC voiding my new PR application on the basis of me not having enough points anymore. Sounds like a vicious circle to you? Not quite but close I would say.

Backyard
A family of racoons visiting “my” backyard in late October. And they were pretty curious.
Vancouver-fog
Vancouver in fog. View from West Vancouver. Note how the Lions Gate Bridge and parts of Stanley Park are above the clouds.

 

Anyway, this is my current situation now and so I can’t even start planning anything for 2018 yet because it is totally unclear what will happen when and how. Just a few years ago, so much uncertainty would have driven me crazy and left me fearful und helpless. Today, I am a lot stronger and experienced so that I know that every change also offers opportunities and that life goes on, no matter what. Still, I am incredibly sad that I potentially have to leave Canada again soon and that this is mainly my own fault because I was not diligent enough with that first PR application. Probably one of the biggest mistakes I ever made in life. And definitely one of those mistakes that have a huge huge impact on one’s future.

1000Stories
My personal drink discovery of 2017: An amazing red wine from the Bonterra winemaker, California. Resonably prized!

Alright, enough of the whining about the PR. Let’s do a little review of this beautiful year 2017 instead. And let’s talk about the pictures in this blog first. I intentionally chose not to show any pictures that I already used in previous blog entrys. Why? Because there are way too many meaningful and great things that I would want to show again here. So instead I went with a much smaller set of pictures that I haven’t shown in my blog yet. Some are already a few months old, others only a few days, but all are worth showing. Finally, I chose the title picture because it mirrors exactly how I feel right now about my future. Arrows pointing in all kinds of direction and I have no idea yet which way to take. I took that picture on the Camino in Spain (October) and despite this irritating situation, Rachel and I found the right way then and did not get lost. I have faith in myself to do the same for my future once I have clarity about my application- situation.

Titel
Left, right or straight ahead? Which way is the right one? Who knows?

There were so many highlights in 2017 that it is hard for me to remember them all. Looking at my travel highlights, there was my hiking trip to Portugal and Spain in October, my trip to Vancouver Island in September, my trips to Saskatchewan and Texada Island in August, my trip to Germany in June/ July, my trip to Salt Spring Island in June and my trip to Olds/ Red Deer in May. All of them amazing trips and I am truly priviledged that I was able to do every single one of them.
My running highlights include the halfmarathon in Langley in January, the marathons in Vancouver and Red Deer in May, the 30K race in Whisler in June, the marathon in Texada in August, the 50K Trail race on Vancouver Island in September and finally the awesome 80K race in Whistler in October. A lot of running for the year and hopefully also a good preparation for future endeavours in 2018.
Aside from the running, I also did quite a bit of rock climbing in 2017. Actually, I just started climbing in 2017, that’s probably why it is worth mentioning here. 🙂 So far I have only climbed indoors but if the opportunity arises, I am definitely open to climbing outdoors as well in 2018.

Mt Seymour
Great view on Mount Seymouor. Snow begins at roughly 900 meters elevation.
Blue-Gentian-Lake
Gentian Lake at the Brothers-Creek-Loop, West Vancouver.

In 2017, I also managed to do a lot of hiking. I hiked the Camino with Rachel, I hiked quite a few routes together with Emilia, with my Mum, with Martin or simply alone. During those hikes, I got to see Spain, Portugal, Grouse Mountain, Mount Seymour, Cypress Mountain, the Chief, Lynn Canyon, Bunzten Lake, Lighthouse Park, the Brothers- Creek- Loop, Quarry Rock and the interiors of Texada Island, Vancouver Island and Salt Spring Island. And probably, I even forgot some of my hikes in this enumeration….

Above everything else, I feel that I was very fortunate to spend so much quality time with so many wonderful people in 2017. My Mum and Martin from the Captain’s Mafia came to see me in Canada in July (Martin) and August (Mum) and we spent some really nice days together. An unbelievable feeling to receive visitors here, several thousand kilometers away from my former home. In the first months of the year, Verena was still in Vancouver and I remember doing a lot of different things together with her and having a lot of fun. During our trip in Portugal and Spain, I spent two great weeks together with Rachel on the longest hike I have done so far in my life. Even after that hike we kept in touch and I really enjoy the time we spend together. In August, I was invited to a family reunion in Saskatchewan and that weekend was a real blast. It was great to meet so many wonderful people (again), to be at that beautiful lake and to be introduced to a family’s tradition, the strudel- making. Big hugs for Dawn, Jo Anne and Doug for also inviting me to their places from January to March (Dawn) and May (Jo Anne and Doug). I really enjoyed spending time together with you! In July, I flew back to Germany and I met Glenn, Martin from Lidl and two of my buddies from the Captain’s Mafia. It was great to see you all again and I am looking forward to meeting you all again in April. We will have a great time together, I know it! During that week in Germany, I also met my Mum, of course, because I mainly stayed at her place. 🙂 Hugs and kisses for you, Mum, for being my Mum and for continuously supporting me while I am away in Canada!
Now I will stop mentioning people right here because otherwise this blog entry will become way too long. Sorry for not mentioning everyone explicitly who helped to make my year 2017 as great as it was. I haven’t forgotten you!

Waterfall
Majestic waterfall on the Brothers- Creek- Loop, West Vancouver.
Cypress-Mountain
My Mum and I at Cypress Mountain, after a hike. Looks like I have quite the belly on the picture. 🙂

Overall, 2017 was probably the best year of my life so far. No close friends or family members got really sick or died and I myself also stayed pretty healthy. In addition to that, I had an awesome year in Canada with lots of highlights and only very few things that did not go my way. Even though the above outlined PR issue is a looming dark shadow in the otherwise really light and shiny appearance of 2017, I do not let this single and tragic mistake make me feel bad about the whole year. I am grateful for every experience in this year and I am still full of hope that the new year 2018 can be as amazing and exciting as the current fading year. 🙂

Time to close this blog entry with a crazy song (Russian/ German- lyrics) that will supply us with all the energy we possibly need for a good start to 2018. Cheers!

Russkaja – Energia

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44. Whistler 30K race & other events

Vancouver, Canada, 03.06.2017.

It is saturday evening and I have a little bit of time to write this blog entry and calm down from today’s final race in my current “series”. It all began with the Vancouver marathon on May 7th, then continued with the Red Deer marathon on May 21st and ended with todays 30K run in Whistler after 27 days. I have had a great time in all of these races but I also think that this is enough for now and that I will (have to) give my body a longer phase of rest now. It is not that I feel bad or wrecked now but I am a firm believer that you can only give your best if you are well rested. Also, I might have some minor injuries or muscle issues that just need a little bit of time to heal off completely. So I will only do a little bit of regular training in the next weeks and restart with doing races after I return from Germany in early July. 🙂  As of now, I have made a plan which races I definitely want to do this year and which ones I will not do because they are too close together or too far away.

So this is the updated race calendar for this year:

Langley Half Marathon, 21.01.2017:    1:51
Vancouver Marathon, 07.05.2017:        3:27
Red Deer Marathon, 21.05.2017:           3:29
30K race, Whistler, 03.06.2017:             2:18
Marathon Kamloops, 23.07.2017:         confirmed, registered already
Half Marathon Vancouver, 12.08.17:   maybe
50K trail race, Squamish 19.08.17:       sold out. Can’t compete
Marathon Texada Island, 27.08.17:      confirmed, registered already
Marathon Richmond, 01.10.17:             too close to the 80K race 2 weeks later
Kelowna Marathon, 07.10.17:               no
Okanagan Marathon, 08.10.17:             no
80K race, Whistler, 14.10.17:                confirmed, registered already
Marathon North VAN, 28.10.17:           too close to the 80K race 2 weeks earlier
Marathon, Delta, 05.11.17:                    very likely but I will decide on that spontaneously
Marathon Seattle, 26.11.17:                   maybe, depending on the weather
Half Marathon, Vancouver, 26.11.17:  alternative if I don’t go to Seattle

There are some smaller races in Vancouver and surrounding area in between and I might do one or more of them to have something in between but I havent decided on that yet. In October, there will be the big blow with the 80K race in Whistler. No clue how I will prepare for that but I know that I probably want a longer “regeneration” period prior to that so I won’t do the marathon in North Delta. Which is a bummer because it is so close to me. Unfortunately, the race in Squamish on the 19th of August was completely sold out when I looked it up and there is no way I can compete in that one. 50K, 50 mile and the 50K + 50 Mile- race (sick!!!) are all completely sold out. But with the 80K race in Whistler, I have a great highlight for this year and a true challenge ahead of me. And since I won’t be able to run in Squamish, I can drive to Texada Island the following weekend (boy, that will be a great trip!) and do the marathon over there. That will be a lot of fun I think! Actually, I booked the marathon first and then looked up how to get to Texada Island. Bad sequencing on my part but now I can’t change that anymore and I just need to do it. It will be alright though I think!

Race-Map
Race map. The red line is the 30K race I made.
Race-elevation
Elevation profile of the race course. Definitely more demanding than the marathons in Vancouver and Red Deer.

So how was the 30K run today? Well, I really liked it and it was quite different to the two races I did before. The course was about 50% tarmac and 50% forest trail which was quite new to me. Up to this race, I was used to either run on tarmac only or on trail only. But the main difference today was the considerable elevation change on the race course, see map above. Although the elevation change in the Red Deer marathon was already larger than the one in the Vancouver marathon, they were quite harmless in comparison to the elevation change on this course. It is not that the up- and downhill parts were particularly bad or gruesome on this course but they were there and it definitely made a difference in the way I ran this race. The elevation change was not as significant as in the Grande Cache half marathon last year but it was still significant. And there was another significant difference in this race: I met a fellow runner on the course who basically ran the same pace as me so we could push each other during most of the race. She was a great runner, had a very steady pace and was especially strong on the uphill parts of the race. On the last 4 kilometers, I could not keep up with her anymore and she finished ahead of me. Also, she managed to win the 2nd place in the women’s competition in the race which was a big accomplishment and I am really happy that she was able to do that. 🙂 My finishing time was 2:18 which was surprisingly good given that the track was more difficult than the previous ones and my legs did not really feel fresh. At 21.2 km, my time was around 1:38 and my overall pace was quite quick with 4:38 Minutes per kilometer. So despite the more difficult track, I was able to beat my marathon paces by quite a bit. Of course, this was a shorter race than the marathons so the paces are not comparable but I am still proud of it anyway. All in all, it was a great day and I promised myself to return to Whistler one day to actually take a look at the city and its famous sites of the Olympic Winter Games of 2010.

Whistler-Panorama
The Olympic rings, close to the start/ finish line of the race.
Finish
My racing companion and me after the race. Happy about the accomplishment!

And what else happened in the last week aside from the running? Well, first of all I had a great time with Jo Anne and Doug in Olds and I am very grateful that they invited me and I could visit them. I added a few pictures of my trip to them and back from Olds to Vancouver because they reminded me of my visit to Canada a year ago. Banff, Lake Louise and me driving long distances through Canada. I am still a big fan of that and this will probably never change. 🙂 Here we go, enjoy:

Banff
Banff. Isn’t that just a beautiful sight?
Lake-Louise
Lake Louise visitor center. I made a quick stop to get a coffee and some gas. Always nice to come back here.
Merritt
An old hotel in Merritt, on my way from Vancouver to Calgary.
Salmon Arm1
View from the road onto the lake near Salmon Arm. I definitely need to come back here one day.
Spiral-Tunnels
Made a quick stop at the Spiral Tunnels on my way back to Vancouver.
Spiral-Tunnels2
One part of the Spiral Tunnels in the middle of the Canadian wilderness. Impressive, ey? 😉
SatNav
882 kilometers straight on. What did I need a SatNav for again? 🙂 Love your long roads, Canada!
Beaver-statue
Beaver statue (wood) in the Bower Ponds in Red Deer.

In the last weeks, I also continued to climb and I am still making some progess with the more difficult routes as well. Last week, I took a Lead Belay course and technically, I now know how to lead climb. However, I guess I will need quite a bit of training and practice until I really feel comfortable with that style of climbing. With regard to hiking, my hiking partner and I managed to explore the Lynn Canyon together. I really enjoyed that and I am already looking forward to our next hiking trip in 2 weeks. Hiking is a good alternative to running because it still trains your legs while it is a lot slower and allows you to chill and look around a lot more…

Lynn-Canyon2
Waterfall in Lynn Canyon. View from above.
Lynn-Canyon1
Rapids in Lynn Canyon. Nice to see how the stones are sharpened by the water.

Okay, I just realized that I have already written more than 1300 words so far. So this is probably the longest blog entry I have ever written. But that also means that I will now conclude this entry with the usual music advice and stop writing for now. While browsing YouTube, I stumbled upon this rather unknown band. Check out this songs, I really enjoy listening to it! Till next time, everyone….

Fangclub – Bad words

42. Vancouver Marathon

Vancouver, Canada, 11.05.2017.

After having done my first marathon last Saturday, I finally found a bit of time to write this blog entry now and tell you a little about my run. First of all, I have to admit that it was a great experience and that it was quite a bit different than running a half marathon. But let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

On Saturday, I rented a hotel room in Vancouver for two reasons: I wanted to be close to the start and the finish line of the marathon and I needed a good place to park my car for a longer time without having to pay ridiculous fees. Also, I still needed to pick up my race package on Saturday so I had to go to the Convention Centre in downtown anyway. After having picked up my package, I decided to see some stand-up comedy at the YukYuks in the evening and as usual, it was a very entertaining show. On Sunday morning, the marathon started at 08:30 AM and the weather was beautiful. The sun was out all day but it was not too hot and the fresh breezes along the way were very welcome to cool down the runners. I really enjoyed the very scenic run and the amazing views on the course. And it was also very helpful that the course itself did not have a difficult altitude profile at all. There were only two minor hills on the course and they were absolutely doable. So in the end, my finish time was pretty good and also a lot better than I had hoped for initially. However, the most amazing thing to me was the fact that I managed to run a quite steady pace throughout the marathon. My time for the first 21.1 Km was 1:40 whereas my time for the second 21.1 Km was only marginally worse at 1:47 Km. When I passed the 21.1 Km- mark, I was a little bit shocked about my time because this time is pretty close to my best half marathon time. So I expected myself to be a lot slower during the second half of the marathon as I had already invested a lot of my energy at that point. Interestingly, this did not happen and I was also able to run the second half relatively smoothly. Overall, I have to say that I really enjoyed running the marathon and it was an aweseome experience.

2015.Maps_.MARATHON.
Course and altitude profile. My judgement: relatively easy and uncomplicated.
Times
My times during the run. With place 378 out of 4695 runners, I am in the top 10! 🙂
BMO-Mascot
Found a cute mascot at the finish line…

So how did/do I feel after the marathon? Interestingly, I was and I am doing pretty okay. I had a few cramps in my leg muscles but nothing serious. My feet were really good on Sunday and I had no issues at all. No open blisters, no bleeding spots, nothing. Then, on Monday evening I realized that there were 3 unopened blisters on my toes. I opened all of them and the two blisters on my large toes did hurt quite a bit but they were not the main issue. It was more annoying that I lost my nail on my little toe (right foot) due to the blood blister that had emerged under it. Also, this is the only part of my body that still hurts because of the marathon. But today, it is already a lot better so I can’t really complain. Overall, I had no major issues during or after the marathon so I am very happy that my worst fears did not come true. That being said, I am already planning for the next marathons this year and I am really looking forward to doing some more. I have not yet finally decided on it but I will MAYBE drive up to Red Deer next week and do the marathon over there on the 21st. So tempted to do it but I don’t really know if it is a good idea… Ultimately, it is my goal to run the Canadian Death Race next year and I will have to train very hard to be able to do that. So I may as well keep pushing myself a little more, I guess.

A week prior to the marathon, I went hiking at the nearby Buntzen Lake and this was also a very nice experience. I was hiking together with some very nice people and we had a lot of fun and interesting conversations while we were hiking around the lake. Unfortunately, one of the main trails around the lake was closed for maintenance so we had to take parallel but less scenic trail. Still, the views were quite nice and we had a great time.

Buntzen-Map
Buntzen Lake’s trail system.
Buntzen-3
View from the start of the hike.
Buntzen-1
View from the turning point of the hike.
Buntzen-2
Waterfall in the backcountry of Buntzen Lake.

This saturday, we will go hiking again, but not at Buntzen Lake. Instead, we will drive to Lynn Valley and hike one of the trails over there. Probably the Lynn Canyon one but we have not yet decided on that.

And what am I doing apart from the running and hiking? Well, I am still climbing regulary and I really enjoy that as well. As a preparation for my first outdoor climbing trip, I will take a lead belay course on May 27th so that I will be able/allowed to climb the more tricky routes after that. After that, Gordon and I will probably start planning trips to Squamish and/or Lake Louise to do some outdoor climbing over there. Exciting developments. 🙂 However, with all the sport activities in my life, there is not much time left for my other passion: the gaming. But I guess that is okay because you simply can’t have everything in life, can you???

Let me share two more nice pictures with you before I will conclude this blog’s entry with the ususal music advice:

Deep-Cove-Coast
Coastal area behind Cates Park. So nice to run here, especially in the sun.
Cherry-Blossom
Cherry blossom in Vancouver. Yes, I know, there are more impressive displays of this 😉 ….

The following song is one of the motivational pieces that kept pushing me forward during the marathon. In a nutshell, it is about being “on fire” and reaching out to the great goals in life. It fits my current feeling here in Canada quite well and it really kept me going when I running last Sunday. Hope you enjoy it:

Böhse Onkelz – Flammen

41. Preparing for the marathon

Vancouver, Canada, 26.04.2017.

Just nine more days and I will be running my first full marathon. I have to admit that I am already pretty excited about that. At the same time, I still have a few doubts about my current training condition because I have not done more than 20 kilometers per session lately. One the one hand, any distance up to 20 kilometers is absolutely doable for me in the moment, not a problem. On the other hand, however, I don’t know how my body will react if I keep pushing past these 20 kilometers. In any case, I will find out about that soon and I am not really scared to do so. One way or the other, it will be fine I guess. One of my strengths is to just take the pain and keep running. I have done it before and I will be able to do it again so I don’t really worry about it.

In the past weeks, I managed to intensify my marathon training. On average, I ran roughly 50 kilometers per week in three session. Also, I went hiking on Easter Sunday which possibly also trained my leg muscles. I wanted to hike up to Mount Seymour but I wasn’t properly prepared for that because there was still a lot of snow above the 900m- line and it was really cold and uncomfortable up there. So I decided to turn around and come back another day with warmer clothing. To me, these weather issues here in Canada are still really amazing. At the start of the hike, it was about 15 degrees warm and sunny whereas three hours later, I had to hike in knee-deep snow with temperatures below zero. Just amazing! Anyway, I will return and conquer Mount Seymour another day, probably some time in the summer when the snow is gone. In the meantime, I will focus on hiking less mountainous routes starting next Sunday. Already looking forward to that because I got to know someone who also likes hiking so we decided to go hiking together regularly in the future. Will be lots of fun I think!

Snow-Trail
Snowy trail on the way up to Mount Seymour.
Cove-Lookout
Deep Cove Lookout next to Mount Seymour Road.
Lookout-1
View from Deep Cove Lookout. Sadly, my camera could not capture the nice panorama adequately.

When it comes to sports, I am also still climbing really actively. After having done the belay course, I started doing belay routes with Gordon, another climber at the gym. He is a lot more experienced than me so I can learn many things from him. In any case, I still manage to make a lot of progress each time I go climbing which is really encouraging. However, I think I still need to work a lot on my technique before I can go climbing outdoors. But since the outdoor season has not begun yet, I guess I still have enough time on my hands to prepare myself for this next step.

Aside from all of these sport activities, I also spend a lot of time at work, getting to know my staff members and the organization of my store. As of now, I think I already gained a good overview of the current situation and the most pressing problems in the store. There are quite a few things that need my attention now and in the next months but I am confident that my team and I can make some significant improvements in the future. Work itself is really enjoyable so I am still very happy that I got this position.

Wild-Waterfall
Huge waterfall and large uprooted tree on the trail up to Mount Seymour.
Waterfall-1
Close-up of one part of the huge waterfall.

With all the time I am currently spending at work and doing sports, I had to cut down on playing board games and card games recently. Unfortunately, I was unable play at the MAGIC- Amonkhet prerelease last weekend because I had to work. In addition to that, I havn’t had the time yet to join the local board game group because I simply did not have the time. But I will do that after the marathon when it makes sense to cut down a bit on the running training. 🙂 It is always nice to meet new people and in my experience, local gamers are always very nice and fun people to be with.

Wrecked-Bridge
Wrecked bridge on a hiking trail.
Young-plant
New life grows in a puddle of mud. The bright green of the plant is NOT photoshoped.
BMO
6th of May, going the full distance. My aim is to stay under 5 hours.

Rather short update this time but there is not much more interesting stuff to talk about in the moment. So, as usual, I will conclude this blog entry with a music advice. Today’s song is a good piece of German rock and it always pushes me when I listen to it while running. Also, think this the artist’s best song overall. Check it out:

Stefan Weidner – Stille Tage im Klischee

40. Exploring the neighborhood

Vancouver, Canada, 14.04.2017

Nearly another two weeks have gone by since I’ve written my last blog entry. So I guess it’s time to write a little about the newest developments here in Vancouver.

Aside from the bad weather (rain, rain and even more rain), I really enjoyed the first weeks here in North Vancouver. It turned out that I moved to a quiet and friendly neighborhood which is quite close to the start of several hiking routes in the Canadian rainforest. And of course, I already tried two of these routes on my days off. They are really nice to run, well maintained and offer some spectacular views. It is also quite nice that one of the hiking routes goes up to the nearby Mount Seymour because I really like mountain hiking. Unfortunately, I haven’t yet had the opportunity to do that hike but on Easter Sunday, I will probably try it. If the weather forecast is right, there will be at least some sun on that day and since I won’t have to work, it sounds like a good plan to do that hike then. Now let’s have a look at a few of the pictures I took on my previous runs/ hikes:

Bridge
A small, makeshift bridge that did not seem too trustworthy. Thankfully, it did not collapse when I walked over it.
Stream2
Narrow stream of rushing mountain water, crossing the hike’s path.
Stream
A bigger stream, carrying crystal- clear water.

Aside from the running and hiking, I also spent some time in the climbing gym in the last weeks. And due to some classes that I took and a lot of training, I can already feel how I am slowly getting better and better each time I am there. However, there are a lot of techniques that I still need to train and master before I can possibly start climbing outdoors. But I am confident that I will be able to do that and that I can do some outdoor climbing this summer. There are quite a few popular routes around Vancouver and Squamish and I am already exited to see the difference between climbing indoor and outdoor. Although I have only started climbing a little more than 2 months ago, I already feel that this sport has become an important part of my life and I don’t want to miss that again. To me, climbing is a lot of fun and I also really enjoy meeting people at the gym and talking about the routes, techniques and general issues. If you haven’t tried climbing yet, maybe you should give it a try and see for yourself if you like it or not…

Stream3
View from a bridge that crosses a mountain stream.
Stairs-Hike
The beginning of the “Quarry Rock” hike, starting at Deep Cove.

This Monday, I started working at my own store in North Vancouver. It was really exciting to meet all of the members of my store team and to get a first impression of the current situation in the store. We already started reorganizing a few things and I think that a few months down the road, we will have a great looking store with an efficient, “german”, organization. 🙂 In any case, I really enjoyed my first days at the store and I am truly happy to be there at the moment. It is also quite nice that it only takes me roughly 15 minutes of walking to get to work in the morning. No traffic jams, no long drives to work, no trouble finding a parking place. What more can you possibly ask for?

Quarry-Rock2
View from Quarry Rock. Notice Downtown Vancouver (high- rises) in the distance, right side of the picture, above the tree line.
Quarry-Rock1
Quarry Rock: Another angle. Must be nice when the sun is shining…
Panorama Park
Panorama Park in Deep Cove.

This week’s featured song is one of the more popular songs of a great German Heavy Metal band called Gravedigger. I have only seen them live once but although the members of the band have already aged a little, they were full of power and the concert was a blast. Check out this nice song from their great album “Heavy Metal Breackdown”:

Gravedigger – We wanna rock you

37. Long-term decisions

Vancouver, Canada, 11.03.2017.

When I came to Canada in January, I had basically drawn up two viable plans what to do:

1. The Gap-Year plan: Originally, it was my plan to to just travel through Canada during my Work&Travel year, to get a break from work life and to just enjoy my life. I thought about spending a few weeks on Vancouver Island, to drive to the Rocky Mountains again, to go up north to Yukon and then to drive all the way across Canada by car to finally end up in Newfoundland and Labrador at the end of the year. Of course, it was also part of this plan to visit all the sights and parks that were on the route from western Canada to the east.

2. The residency plan: This plan focused on trying to get a decent job somewhere as quickly as possible, to move there and get my own apartment, to then apply for permanent residency and thus to gain a foothold here in Canada. Of course, this plan is the more “responsible” and “mature” plan as it satisfies the common view that you are supposed to work somewhere and be a “good member of society”.  On the other hand, this plan is also less fun and not so much different from what I have been doing so far in my life. So not a great change, really.

To be very honest, I was totally unsure what to do initially when I arrived in Canada in January. I had no real preference for a plan although I clearly saw their individual benefits and drawbacks. However, it was not at all easy for me to weigh them properly and make up my mind what I really wanted. On the one hand, the Gap-Year plan promised to be more fun and it would reward me with a million priceless impressions and great experiences. On the other hand, this Gap-Year would then clearly be a one-shot thing and I would have to go back to Europe at the end of the year and it would become increasingly more difficult after this year to try to gain a permanent foothold here in Canada. So what do you do if you don’t know what’s right? I solved this problem by prioritizing the plans while not discarding either of them. Upon arrival in Canada, I decided to follow the residency plan first and to try to get a job quickly. Then, in case of an unfruitful job search, I was prepared to discard the residency plan in favor of the Gap-Year plan by the end of April. Why not earlier than the end of April? Well, Canada is mainly a cold and snowy country. So leaving the lower mainlands around Vancouver earlier than May does not really make much sense if you want to go up north and see a bit more of the landscape than just the white layer. Also, most of the parks do not open that early in the year and hiking is not too much fun if you have to do it in the snow. So basically the residency plan was my primary plan and the the Gap-Year plan was my “Plan B” or backup- plan. Now why am I writing about all this now? Well, my current situation has significantly changed in the last days and it looks like my primary plan has worked out well. But before I go into details here, let’s take a look at a few pictures first.

Buch
The third book in the triology. Overall, three very good books with a great story line but “The Chess Men” can’t quite keep up with the quality of the first two books. Peter May is a great author, you’ll like him.
Shells
A few shells I found when jogging on the beach.

Last week, my future employer, the BC Liquor Stores, finally received the last reference they needed to take me on board. So now I will start to work as a Senior Store Manager for them in North Vancouver on the 20th of March. However, before I get my own store there, I will be trained in several other stores nearby. So it looks like my primary plan worked just fine and I can now try to apply for permanent residency here. And this is exactly what my next step will be once I have settled down in North Vancouver. Next Monday, I will take a look at a few apartments there and hopefully find a good place to stay there. But I think that will not be a huge issue as I am not too picky about my living places.
Despite the current development, I have not at all given up on my Gap-Year plan yet. And if all goes according to my grand master plan, I don’t have to give up on it anyway. In case I get my permanent residency, I can always do my all-around-Canada-trip at some point in the future. So nothing is really “lost” and by pursuing my current plan I keep most of my future options open. I feel I can always take a Sabbatical later in my life and still do the trip once I managed to acquire my permanent residency and worked for a few years here in Canada.
Interesting side- note: Last week, I also received an E-Mail from Parks Canada telling me that I was chosen for an interview for the site-manager position at the Banff Upper Hot Springs. How unexpected. Last time I heard anything from this application, I was just buying my car. Must have been late January I guess. But there was no chance I would go to that interview as I had already signed the job offer of the BC Liquor Stores. Still interesting to see how long a recruitment process can take. Six weeks in between the end of the application process and the decision who will be invited to an interrview. That is long! Also, I am quite thrilled to see the success of my applications. In total, I wrote just 7 applications, I got invited to interviews 2 times, attended one interview and got the job. Can’t say I am not a bit proud about that. 🙂

Now that should be enought talk about work and me drawing up strange plans. Let’s write a bit about the fun things I did in the last days. I managed to read a bit and I also continued to go jogging regularly (see both pictures above). Now that I know that I’ll be staying in Vancouver a bit longer, I decided to sign up for the Vancouver Marathon on May 7th and do the first full marathon in my life. Seems really fitting that I will do it here in Vancouver on a stunning course that will also lead through Stanley Park. You can check out the course map here. Just a really really nice course I think.
Also, I will get a year membership in one of the climbing gyms in Vancouver and start climbing regularly. Climbing is not only great fun but I realized that it trains my upper body and arms a lot and I feel that this really benefits me. Up to now, I only trained my legs by running and completely neglected my upper body. Possibly not the greatest choice.

When it comes to regular fun activities, I managed to attend some board game evenings in the store in Ladner and I also visited the CatFe again twice. They have three very cute Main Coone mix breeds there, all siblings. They are really friendly and curious and two of them ended up on my lap, enjoying my cuddles. I expressed my wish to maybe adopt them but after having checked the currently available apartments in North Vancouver, it looks like this is not going to happen. Most of the landlords do not want any animals in their apartment and those who tolerate cats will only tolerate one or two. That’s pretty unfortunate because I think this band deserves a second chance. However, I guess that many potential new owners will be deterred by their current age as they are already 10 years old. Now that does not deter me but I know that most of the people look for cats that are still young. That situation makes me a bit sad but there’s not much I can really do about it…

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Harvey (female) and me in the CatFe in Vancouver.
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Budddy (male), who sat on my lap for over an hour, enjoying my cuddles.
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Mare Nostrum Empires. I played the green Greece, trying to fend off the Romans and the Babylonians at the same time.
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Castles of Burgundy. Second time I played it. Thanks to Stephan Valkyser, I already had a good insight into this game.

Last week I also managed to make a few trips to downtown Vancouver and I visited the Vancouver Public Library, the Vancouver Museum and the Space Centre. The library resides in a very interesting Colosseum- like building and it has a truly large collection, including some German literature. Unfortunately, they apparently also bought crappy books in the past as I found a copy of a rather infamous German author whose views are much questioned.
The Space Center is a nice place to go and their shows are really entertaining and offer some stunning views. So I can only advise to go there if you’re a bit interested in astronomy or Space exploration. Not the biggest or most thrilling exhibition but it is still worth to go there and take a look at it. Now I wish I could say the same for the Museum of Vancouver but I really can’t. Verena and I went there and we both agreed that this museum is rather boring and that it did not really entertain us. I have seen many better Canadian museums and I would not recommend seeing the Museum of Vancouver if you’re only staying at Vancouver for a few days…

Library
The Colosseum- like building of Vancouver’s Public Library.
Library2
Very surprised to find a copy of THIS book here in Vancouver. Not the best choice to invest the library’s money.

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Space2
A very nice saying, displayed at the Space Center.
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Magnificent Oldtimer in the Museum of Vancouver.

Now that I’ve chosen to settle down in Vancouver, I suppose that I won’t be writing that many blog entries in the future anymore. Of course, I will still write about the exceptional events in my life but I also guess that it will start getting a bit more quiet in my life in the future. But that is okay, life can’t always be a rollercoaster ride. Thus, you should not expect so lengthy and frequent blog entries anymore. But we’ll see about that…
Ah, one last thing before I conclude the blog entry with my music advice: I just received my Parks Canada Discovery pass (see cover picture at the top of the entry) so I can visit every one of Canada’s National Parks for free this year. Anyone can apply for this pass and it costs exactly zero Canadian dollars as Parks Canada gives it away for free this year due to Canada’s 150th birthday. What a great gift! I wish I could do both: work in Vancouver and travel to see Canada’s National Parks at the same time. Not possible though. And again, it is always about setting priorities and making (long-term) decisions….

By chance, I stumbled over this interesting piece of music last week. And I simply put it on repeat and listened to it again and again and again. Until I got fed up with it at some point. But it is still a very good song so I happily share it with you here:

Aesop Rock – None shall pass

36. Canadian Entertainment

Vancouver, Canada, 02.03.2017.

Again, over one week has passed since my last blog entry and quite a few interesting things have happened. Although there are also job- related news to write about, I spent a lot of time enjoying my life in the past days so I had to choose the title for this blog entry the way I did. Okay, let’s start with the job news to get that out of the way first.

Last Thursday, the BC Liquor Stores sent me a job offer for the position as a Senior Store Manager. That was really quick and I was both, surprised and happy, about that offer. Of course I signed the job offer and I also prepared all the necessary documents for them to employ me. Now there are two more things that they will do before I actually get a contract: Firstly, they will check my criminal record and see if there are any entries at all. This should not be a problem as I’ve not yet committed any crimes. And secondly, they will contact my former Lidl superiors (=references) and ask them about my general performance and the situations I described in the job interview and the written assignment. Now of course I don’t know what my former superiors will tell them about me but I am pretty sure it will be a fair assesssment. In the end, there was no conflict at all when I left Lidl so I don’t expect my former superiors to be mad at me for any reason. But in the end, it is really up to them what they will tell the HR manager at the BC Liquor stores and I can’t really influence that. So now I will simply have to wait until they contact me again and then they will either offer me a contract or not. We’ll see about that. With regard to jobs, there is also another interesting development to talk about. BC’s government has finally posted its job advertisements for the Park Ranger and Senior Park Ranger positions. However, these positions are all seasonal so this does not really help me in the long-run. Still, I think it would be nice to work as a Park Ranger for some time and be paid for being outdoors in BC’s beautiful parks. Well, you can’t have it all, can you? The deadline to apply for these jobs is March 8th so I suppose there is still time for me to wait for a response from the BC Liquor stores before I need to do anything here. They should be done with their checks by then and if they choose to not take me on board after all, I can still apply for the Park Ranger job. We’ll see and I will keep you updated.

Now, let’s talk about the main topic of this blog entry: Canadian Entertainment. Yesterday, Verena and I finally went to an Icehockey match of the Vancouver Canucks at the Roger’s Arena. Originally, we already wanted to go to another game earlier this month but the ticket situation online was pretty confusing and ordering tickets through the official ticket center did not work at all. Also, the prices for weekend- tickets were much higher than the prices for yesterday’s match during the week. Still, we had to pay a little more than 60 dollars per ticket for seats of a rather lower category. That was quite the amount but the money was not wasted at all. It was a good experience to watch my first Icehockey match and to see how a sports match is presented here in Canada. Lots of entertainment, lots of commercials and in between that, you just watched the game. 🙂 As a foreigner, I was a little intrigued by the two national anthems that were played prior to this “ordinary” league match. As far as I know, this only happens in Europe if the country’s national teams play against each other. But I may be mistaken here… It was also interesting to see that there was no separation of the opposing fan groups, neither inside nor outside of the stadium. In European soccer matches, this would be unthinkable. Then again, European soccer fans seem to bee much more involved with their club, the team and the match. In contrast to that, there wasn’t much cheering or loud enthusiasm in the stadium yesterday. The people just seemed to be there to relax, have a good time, drink a beer and talk a little while watching the game. Just a very different attitude that also created a completely different atmosphere than the one I got to know when I occasionally watched European soccer in different stadiums in Germany. It feels like the Germans take the game a lot more seriously and they treat it more like a fight that must be won than an entertaining event. However, I have never been to a German Icehockey match yet so I guess it is not that easy to compare these situations. In the end, the German soccer fans are known to be very involved and emotional at times and I don’t know if the same holds true for the German Icehockey fans. Anyway, it was a good experience yesterday and I am open to seeing another Canucks match in the future if the ticket price is acceptable. In any case, I don’t think that it is worth paying a lot more for the so-called “good” tickets as we still had a pretty good view on our “cheaper” seats. Finally, is it worth mentioning how the game ended yesterday? Well, the Canucks lost 2:3 in the overtime against the Detroit Red Wings and it wasn’t overly exciting. Both of the teams do not have a chance anymore to go to the play-offs so I guess the outcome of the game wasn’t really too relevant to anyone in the stadium anyway. At least I did not hear a lot of complaining on our way out of the arena.

canucks-1
In the stadium: “Canucks are for everyone”- campaign featuring the rainbow- colors.

And what else happened entertainment- wise? Well, Verena and I had a great night out in Vancouver and shared one of the craziest “drinks” I ever had in my life. The “Checkmate Caesar” is a roughly 0.6 liter big drink that has the following ingredients: Vodka, Tomato juice, clam broth, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Also, the glass had celery salt around its egde. I gotta say that was one of the most ugly drinks I ever tasted. But the food “garnish” that came with this drink was really good: A grilled chicken, a big hamburger, a small hamburger, a sandwich, a brownie, some onion rings and five chicken wings. Take a look at this crazy piece of food/ drink:

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The “Checkmate Caesar”, served at the “Score on Davie” bar/restaurant, West End Vancouver.
score
The “Score on Davie” bar, West End Vancouver.
west-end
Rainbow crosswalk in Vancouver’s West End: The citie’s LGBTQ- quarter.

After having eaten, we again went to a show at the YukYuk’s (this seems to become a habit) but this time the show wasn’t that good, really. No need to mention the Comedian’s name here but the 20 bucks per ticket were not at all well invested, unfortunately. Well, as everybody’s humor is different, this was likely to happen at some point I guess…

And what else happened in the last days? Well, I bought my own climbing gear (harness, shoes, chalk bag and belay device) and tested it already in our current favorite climbing hall. It all fits well and it wasn’t that expensive, really. So now I can save the money to rent the gear from the climbing hall and I also have my own shoes which is a definite plus on the hygiene side. 🙂

At the board game evening last week, I got to play a new game: Zombicide. Well, as the name suggests, the game is basically about killing Zombies and escaping from them after having completed a certain task. It is a cooperative game and although it is more about slaying Zombies than strategy, I like it and we had a lot of fun playing it.

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One of the items belonging to my new climbing gear: The chalk bag “Floyd”.
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Zomicide. Notice all the grey miniatures (= Zombie horde) on the board.

Finally, I also visited the CatFé once more because a friend of mine tolf me that she had seen Main Coons there. Now I have had Main Coon cats myself and I really like a lot about them: Their thick and fluffy fur, their high pitched voice, their size (they are the biggest cat race!) and most of all their friendliness and gentle behaviour. So I went to the CatFé to take a closer look at them. On that day, however, most of the present cats in the café had already found a new home so even if I wanted to adopt one, there was no chance to do so. Maybe an opportunity will arise for me in the future at some point to have pets again, who knows?

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Maine Coon- Mix “Marshall” at the CatFé Vancouver.
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Marshall’s brother.

Oh my god, over 1500 words again in this blog entry already? Time to quit writing I guess. But finally, as always, let’s have today’s music advice. In honor of the “Zombicide” board game, I choose to present to you:…. A rather strange Hardbass- song. Did I mention that I have a weird music taste? Probably…

Dr. Rude – Apocalypse